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White-Tailed Eagles Returns To Skies For First Time In 240 Years

Joanna Freedman

| Last updated 

White-Tailed Eagles Returns To Skies For First Time In 240 Years

Featured Image Credit: PA

The UK's largest bird of prey has now returned to England's skies for the first time in over 240 years.

White-tailed eagles were last seen in England all the way back in 1780 (but they stuck around in Scotland until around 1916).

Now, the large sea eagles have been given another chance thanks to Forestry England and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, and are gradually returning to their former habitats.

The two conservation organisations released a small group of the eagles into the Isle of Wight last year with GPS trackers on them, so they remained closely monitored.

And while the birds seemed sedentary in winter, the GPS has shown that they have moved around a lot more as the weather heats up, visiting various parts of England, including Somerset, Kent and Norfolk.

The research showed that two ballsy birds even made It as far as Yorkshire before settling down.

The White-tailed eagle is easy to spot (Credit: PA)
The White-tailed eagle is easy to spot (Credit: PA)

A representative from The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation has told the Mirror: "There have been a large number of sightings in spring 2020 which relate to birds released on the Isle of Wight."

The campaigners are calling for people in England to send in sightings and photographs of the birds, to help continue their research.

Also known as the fish eagle, the white-tailed eagle isn't hard to spot. It's the biggest in the UK, with a wingspan of 2.5 metres.

Plus - the clue is in the name - it can be identified by its white tail ridged with black, hooked yellow beak and yellow legs and talons.

According to evidence from the Netherlands, the birds tend to nest in densely populated areas, near human activity.

The animal is protected in the UK (Credit: PA)
The animal is protected in the UK (Credit: PA)

As opportunistic hunters, this predator's meals can vary a lot, from dead animals and fish in spring/summer to water birds, rabbits, hares and even some mammals in the autumn/ winter.

The Roy Dennis Foundation added: "They are known to explore widely in their first two years before returning to their natural area to breed.

"There's a chance of seeing one wherever you live so keep looking up, but please stay home and stay safe."

You can submit your images via a special form on the foundation's website. After all, if now isn't the time for bird watching, then when is?!

Some farmers are trying to persecute the birds (Credit: PA)
Some farmers are trying to persecute the birds (Credit: PA)

While the return of white-tailed eagles is being celebrated by conservationists, it isn't popular with some farmers, who see the birds as a threat to their livestock.

Sadly, the animal's biggest threat in the UK is persecution, "predominantly through poisoning - something which has overshadowed the otherwise successful reintroduction programmes."

As a result, white-tailed eagles are protected in the UK, meaning that taking, injuring or killing one, or damaging its eggs or nest can be punishable with a fine of up to £5,000 or even six months in prison.

Topics: Life News, News, Animals, Nature

Joanna Freedman
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